It began with a prayer. The old Romanian carpenter who prayed could not have known all that would come as a result of that prayer. Yet he prayed day after day that before he died he would win one Jew for Christ. There were no Jews in his village; he was old and sick — too sick to travel in search of a Jew to whom he could testify. So he prayed.
Then, one day, a young Jewish couple arrived in his village. The old carpenter immediately befriended them and lavished love and kindness on them. He continued to pray for them. He ministered to their every need and sought by every means he knew to lead them to Christ. He gave them a New Testament. In a short time, the young couple were converted and dedicated their lives to serving their risen, living Savior, Jesus Christ.
The young husband, Richard Wurmbrand, became a pastor. He ministered to his Romanian congregation and evangelized the Germans during their occupation of Romania during World War II, even though it meant that he and his bride were repeatedly beaten and arrested by the Nazis. When the Russians invaded Romania, the Wurmbrands evangelized them. In 1945, the Wurmbrands attended the infamous "Congress of the Cults" arranged by the Communist government of Romania. It provided an opportunity for the religious leaders of Romania to swear their allegiance to the godless government. Delegate after delegate stepped forward and swore loyalty to the Communist regime; when it was his turn, Wurmbrand reminded them that their duty is to glorify God and Christ alone.
The true church moved underground. Pastor Wurmbrand continued to minister to the Romanian Christians and evangelize the Russian occupiers. Eventually in 1948, he was arrested by the secret police; his wife Sabina was arrested in 1950. Both spent years in prison. Eventually they were ransomed from Romania for $10,000. The Wurmbrands fled Romania and ended up in the United States in 1965.
It did not take long for Pastor Wurmbrand to make am impact on the American people. While in Berkeley, California in 1965, he saw an anti-war demonstration. He could not bear to hear the Communist government of Viet Nam praised. He forced the microphone from the moderator's hands and told the audience how he was brutalized by the Communists of Romania. He was arrested for this action. In May of 1966, he spoke before the Senate's Internal Security Subcommittee, showing them first hand the 18 deep torture wounds on his body. In 1966, Richard and Sabina began an international speaking tour revealing the atrocities committed against Christians in Communist countries. Richard became known as "The Voice of the Underground Church" and "The Iron Curtain Paul."
Desiring to serve the persecuted church in a greater way, the Wurmbrands officially began a ministry dedicated to this goal in April, 1967. The ministry began as "Jesus to the Communist World" and was later renamed "The Voice of the Martyrs." The ministry has five purposes: "1) To provide Christians with Bibles, literature and broadcasts in their own language in restricted areas of the world where Christians are persecuted; 2) To give relief to the families of Christian martyrs; 3) To undertake projects of encouragement to help believers rebuild their lives and witness in countries that have suffered oppression; 4) To win to Christ those who are opposed to the gospel; and 5) To inform the world about atrocities committed against Christians and about the courage and faith of the persecuted" (The Voice of the Martyrs, 1997 Special Issue). This work is conducted in more than 80 nations.
VOM provides Bibles and Christian literature to Christians around the world. The collapse of the Iron Curtain made it possible for shipments of literature and aid to be sent openly into countries — such as Romania and the Communist states — that had once been denied free access to literature. However, VOM's primary focus is taking Bibles into restricted nations. Innovative means have to be used in "restricted" countries. One such innovation is the Scripture balloons which have been launched over North Korea for more than 20 years. About 100,000 balloons containing 49 pages of Scripture are launched at night.
VOM ministers relief to persecuted Christians and to the families of martyrs through shipments of aid. One special shipment consists of "LifePaks" which include hoes, mosquito nets, soap, cooking pots, a water filter, Bible and other necessary items. LifePaks (costing $45.00 each) are routinely sponsored by VOM readers and sent to areas where Christians have lost their earthly possessions. VOM sponsors a seasonal program called Christmas Care in which individuals can sponsor a Christmas box filled with toys and a New Testament for needy children. VOM has also taken food, medical help and nutritional goods into refugee camps to minister to those fleeing persecution.
In addition to the physical aid, VOM seeks to encourage the persecuted by routinely providing names and addresses of those held in prison or under house arrest so that they may receive letters from other Christians. One Vietnamese Pastor received over 3,000 letters. Often the VOM magazine has a Scripture verse written in a foreign language that can be hand copied and sent to the prisoners. VOM also provides addresses of government officials and gives helpful pointers to be used in writing to them to protest the imprisonment and treatment of Christians in prison or under house arrest. Letters from VOM readers have often helped win the release of believers in prison.
VOM provides at its website up-to-the-date information about the persecuted church: www.persecution.com. VOM also has a program called "LINK INTERNATIONAL Homeschooler" which helps Christian home school families in the United States minister to Christian families in the world who are suffering for their faith. It contains a newsletter which contains features, stories and instructional unit studies about the featured country. LINK INTERNATIONAL Classroom Edition is available for Christian schools.
- Tom White
Tom White has worked with The Voice of the Martyrs since 1971. While teaching English in the Cayman Islands in the 1970s, he made repeated trips to Cuba dropping thousands of gospels and Bible portions into the ocean currents and through the air corridors. In May 1979 his plane crashed on a Cuban highway; he was arrested by Cuban officials. Eventually he was released in 1980 after many appeals from Mother Teresa and U. S. Congressmen. He is the author of "God's Missiles Over Cuba," "The Spiritual Battle for Cuba," "A Window in Time," and "Between Two Tigers." Tom is the director of The Voice of the Martyrs, Inc. You can reach VOM at P. O. Box 443, Bartlesville, OK 74005-0443, (918) 337-8015, fax (918) 338-0189, email [email protected], website: www.persecution.com.